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BCC, UNC Pembroke agreement will offer nurses accelerated degree

Source Date: February 18, 2013

Registered nurses who completed their Associate of Nursing (ADN) at Bladen Community College can now earn a Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) degree in as little as one year. BCC and University of North Carolina - Pembroke officials signed an articulation agreement on Monday, February 18, that will significantly reduce the amount of time needed for these nurses to complete the BSN.

In announcing the agreement, UNCP Chancellor Kyle Carter said the partnership offers students a great opportunity.

"We are entering into this collaboration because we understand the quality of your nursing program," said Dr. Carter. "Nursing is a marquis program at (UNC) Pembroke, and this is a wonderful agreement for our (BCC and UNCP) students."

Dr. Carter pointed out that the university had recently been approved to offer a Master of Nursing, which will provide these nurses an opportunity to seamlessly earn an even higher nursing degree at UNC-Pembroke.

BCC President Dr. William Findt said, "We are pleased to have this agreement with UNC-Pembroke that gives our associate degree nurses an opportunity to continue their education and earn a Bachelor of Nursing. The partnership will enable our students to conveniently complete the BSN. I'm pleased that Chancellor Carter would reach out to community colleges in the UNCP service area to give students opportunities to complete baccalaureate degrees in their program of study."

BCC Vice President for Instruction and Student Services Jeffrey Kornegay said the program being offered by UNCP helps all of southeastern North Carolina meet allied health needs.

"Students who have completed degrees at BCC will be much more likely to continue on and pursue bachelor's degrees, which will benefit our county," said Kornegay. "The additional credentials earned by nurses of our area will ultimately help provide an enhanced level of medical care to our residents."

Called the RN-BSN Bridge Program (Bridge), the plan gives registered nurses who complete Nursing 3000 and Nursing 3200 courses at UNC-Pembroke 30 credit hours in recognition of previously acquired nursing knowledge and skill. Students are allowed up to transfer up to 62 semester hours of credit, including general education and prerequisite courses from BCC to the university. That leaves only seven nursing courses that students in the program must complete to earn a BSN. Students may begin the required nursing courses prior to completing the remaining required general education core of study. Students are allowed to begin nursing courses twice a year.

Clinical requirements in the program are offered in the students' home communities.

A fulltime student who enters the Bridge program can complete it in as little as one year. However, the program can be structured to allow completion in two or more years if a student desires to do so. The student is allowed to select a plan of study that best meets their individual needs.

BCC Dean of Allied Health Erin Hinson said she believes the agreement provides an excellent incentive to get BCC-trained registered nurses to continue their education.

"I am excited about this opportunity for BCC (nursing) students to further their education with a seamless transition," said Hinson. "In recent years there has been a big push to increase the number of nurses with baccalaureate degrees. Programs such as this one (Bridge) make it less difficult for registered nurses with associate degrees to pursue higher degrees.

"The best thing about this program is that you can take up to 75 percent of all the courses needed for the BSN right here on campus at BCC," she explained. "The agreement provides for BCC general education courses to substitute for the equivalent UNCP courses. Therefore, students will have most of the required general education courses and will be required to complete only a few more to complete the degree. Most of the remaining required general education courses can be taken right here at BCC.

"The seven nursing courses needed to complete the degree will be completed in a blended and online format, which minimizes the amount of time needed in class," she added. "Furthermore, there is no time limit on the expiration of courses taken in the associate degree program." Hinson explained that BCC and UNC-Pembroke have been working on developing the agreement.

"Dr. Cherry Beasley, RN-BSN Program Coordinator, came to us to inquire if we were interested in such an agreement," Hinson said. "Of course, we said 'yes.' Now it has come to fruition."